The story continues
| Vulpine Tails.|
It was many long hours before anybody noticed Kyre was missing.
His mother was the first to realize that her adoptive son was missing, many hours after her guests had left, and voiced her worry to her husband once she checked Kyre’s room to find him still gone, obviously not back after the mornings outburst.
“I think we should go search for him Conner.” She told her husband, creases of worry clear on her face. She had been pacing back and forth in their small living room for over an hour now, watching the clock above the fireplace intensely.
“He ran out, let him find his own way back Sara. It will toughen the boy up, and believe me when he gets home he’s going to answer to me for speaking to you that way.” Kyre’s father sat in his favorite armchair, relaxing after a days work with a cigar. He was decidedly not bothered by his son’s disappearance.
“You have been saying that for years Conner!!” Sara was almost hysterical by this point. “Let the villagers treat our son like shit, it will toughen him up, Punish him for letting anybody see his appearance, It will toughen him up! Well I’m sick of “toughening” Kyre!! Look what it has forced him to become!!” The cold and distinguished behavior of a proper lady she had put on all her life had adequately vanished, replaced by the frantic look and loose tongue of a frantic mother. With this Sara stormed to the front passage and put on her coat and boots, leaving a stunned husband behind as she left into the frigid night, Heading for the first place she could think of were her son might be.
Soon Sara stood on the outskirts of the forest, and subconsciously pulled her coat tighter around her. She had lived in Serates almost all her life, and had never realized how frightening this woodland looked at night. The shadows danced about, playing tricks on the eyes. And noises came from nowhere, fooling the senses. Certainly this frightful place is not the peaceful forest beside the village, is it? Nonetheless, Sara swallowed hard, and took a deep breath to calm herself. She entered the tree line warily, calling Kyre’s name. Her son was somewhere within the trees, and she just had to find him.
After what seemed like hours of searching, Sara was all about to give up and look elsewhere, when something caught her eye. In front and a bit to the left of her, she could have sworn she saw something moving, and wait! Was that a light? She was not sure if it was just the forest playing tricks on her mind, but she had nothing else to go on, so she went after it, speeding between the trees and pushing through bushes as fast as her skirts would let her.
In the meantime, deep in the now maze like forest, Kyre had still not awoken from his fall. The blood flow from the nasty head wound having stopped. Thanks to the night air, it had frozen over. His breathing was heavy and labored, and a layer of snow had begun to form on his still body. One would think he was merely sleeping peacefully, but the large pool of frozen red around his head said otherwise. There was little doubt, if he was not found soon, he would surely die. But as far as the young man could see, nobody would even care.
A rustle of leaves, the snap of a twig, that was all the noise needed for Kyre to finally stir. He emitted a long groan, and struggled to regain consciousness fully. But unknown to him, not only was his mother out there calling him desperately, but a large shadow had appeared on the far side of the outcrop of rocks. It moved closer, leaving the cover of the trees, and stepped out into the clearing. As it came closer Kyre could hear it moving towards him as he tried to make his eyes regain focus. His shallow breathing caught in his throat, as he tried to roll over to face the noise.
The figure, still unable to be seen in the pitch black of the night, approached the young man on the ground and stopped moving to stand beside him. Kyre tried to vocalize, ask who they were, or at least, turn around to face them fully.
“W-who are y…” Kyre managed to quietly stutter out. Feeling suddenly afraid, and very vulnerable in this state, what if one of the villagers had stumbled across him? What would they do?
The shadowy figure knelt down beside Kyre, and placed a hand on his still bloodstained forehead, and gently rolled him onto his back. The hand felt unnaturally cool on Kyre’s already icy skin.
“Don’t worry, you will be fine” the person said in a low, soothing voice, obviously a mans voice, but somehow, higher pitched, almost feminine at the same time.
Kyre strained to look up at the man. Tried to force his eyes to focus, but the darkness of the night would still not permit him to see who the person was. Except his eyes. They were a deep yellow, with slitted pupils. It took Kyre a few moments to realize with his still foggy mind, but he discovered that the reason he could only see the man’s eyes, was because they must be reflecting what little light there was. Just like Kyre’s own eyes.
This would have astonished Kyre, but the haze of what most likely a concussion let it slip from his mind. He tried to muster the energy to speak again, to ask who the man was, and why he was here. But the mans other hand put a finger to Kyre’s lips, while still keeping his other hand on Kyre’s forehead.
“Sssshhhh” the voice said soothingly, “Save your strength, She will be here soon, I led her here.”
Kyre gave a look of confusion, before he picked up the sound of something crashing loudly through the foliage to the right of the clearing, and a woman calling his name. His mother? It was a possibility, Kyre thought incoherently.
The figure then removed his hands, taking the strangely pleasant coolness from Kyre’s forehead, and lent down to whisper into his ear.
“I have been watching you, you are special. They are coming, and when they do…run! For none will be spared” the figure stated simply, before standing, and moving swiftly back into the shadows in the direction the mysterious person had come from.
Before Kyre could really register the words said to him, his mother entered the clearing, and spotted him immediately. He was vaguely aware of her running up to him, and yelling something at him, tears in her eyes. He thought he was being lifted of the ground, but he could not be sure, as sleep once again engulfed him. He was left to wonder, and dream, about the strange figure that just may of saved his life.
It was not until late into the next day, did Kyre stir once more.
The sun was slowly setting on the horizon, and the village of Serates was winding down for the day. In his attic bedroom, Kyre lay on his small single bed, gradually beginning to stir once more. The youth cracked an eye open and surveyed the room about him, and almost gave a long sigh of relief. He was no longer in the freezing cold forest, so close to death. Kyre started taking stock of his own body, He noticed the large head bandage wrapped awkwardly around his less than normal ears. He ached, not just his head, but also all over. Every single muscle seemed to scream in protest at any slight movement. The only thing that baffled him was the bandages wrapped around his left foot, and two fingers on his left and were taped together.
“Frostbite…well, for the foot at least, and I’m guessing you broke the fingers when you landed.” A voice came from the far side of the attic. Kyre jerked his head to the voice, narrowing his eyes, more muscles stung in protest.
“Father” Kyre quietly pushed out, his voice seemingly not one hundred percent recovered.
Kyre’s father offered only a grunt in response. He sat on the far side of the attic, his burley figure seated on a small chair, leaning back daringly. He held the cigar he held up to his mouth, inhaling deeply, taking his time as if contemplating his next words.
“You gave your mother the scare of her life.” he stated as his eyes bore into Kyre.
Kyre only turned away in response, looking out the opposite window at the sun, the golden sphere vanishing behind the far hills. The boy’s eyes glazing over, deep in thought, but he did not speak.
“Had a hell of a time getting a doctor to come here for you at such a late hour, had to pay him double just to treat you, almost lost that foot you did.” Conner exhaled, putting emphasizes on the word “you”. The man stood and walked over to the bed, clamping a hand firmly on his adopted sons shoulder.
“Be more careful in the future...” Kyre’s father declared quietly, before backing away and leaving the room, closing the door loudly behind him. Only after the heavy footsteps down the stairway had faded away, did Kyre allowed himself to breath again.
The young man spun around sharply, the pain ignored, glaring at the door to his room. He expected his father to return with some kind of punishment for the trouble he caused. But nothing came. Soon enough he could hear and smell that his mother was preparing dinner. Kyre sigh gently
Kyre had never heard his father speak that way, especially not to him. It unnerved him greatly. What surprised him even greater though was his mother’s reaction. Not only had she been worried, but also she even came into the frigid night looking for him, risking her own health.
The young mans mind was a blur, what did this all mean? Would things change? Or would the whole scenario be pushed under the rug and forgotten? The possibilities of what might happen now spun around in Kyre’s mind. His parents were for the first time; edging towards actually being parents, and this thought more than ever scared him, which in turn confused him. This is what he had wanted all his life…so why did it seem out of place?
The calling of his mother, summoning him to dinner, interrupted this thought. For the better maybe, thinking of the “what if’s” for to long may just of driven him mad! Slowly, and as gently as possible. Kyre sat up and turned to exit the bed. As soon as his feet touched the floor, well, in truth just one of them, he realized what a bad idea that was. He emitted a yelp as pressure was placed on his injured foot.
After taking the offending limb back up into the air were the pain subsided to a dull ache, Kyre pondered what to do, his ears twitching in irritation.
“How the hell do they expect me to…..” he muttered until the problem was answered by the sight of a pair of, by the looks of it; hastily made, crutches that were propped up on the other side of his bedside table. They weren’t even that well made. Simply two pieces of wood that looked alarmingly like trimmed tree branches nailed together into a “T” shape, just looking at them made the boy’s arms ache even more. Putting these thoughts aside and stretching himself to the limit Kyre bent over to grab the wooden sticks with an outstretched hand, with his leg still in the air, this was not easy to say the least.
After a few minuets of fumbling around and a few more slight yips of pain Kyre was finally semi-mobile. After a few practice runs around the attic (and falling down twice, causing a great thud and cursing combination to resonate through the floor below) Kyre was confident to try out the two flights of stairs. After the first step onto the stairs leading down to the second floor did he realize that this was not going to be easy in any way, shape, or form.
After twenty of possibly the most frustrating and uncomfortable minuets of his life, Kyre reached the final step into the hallway. Sore and disgruntled, he slowly pushed the door into the dining room. As soon as he took that last step he realized too late that things were about to become far more frustrating as well as uncomfortable as his parents faces both stared at him, his mother seated at the table, his father standing near the only window situated above the sink so he was little more than a silhouette. It was as if they had been staring at the door this whole time waiting for him, but of course, they had been.
After Kyre had sat down, wincing all the way but determent not to show how much pain he was in front of them, his mother was the first to speak. Talking slowly and quietly, as if she had rehearsed it all.
“We heard you coming down, I do not approve of that kind of language coming from you Kyre.” She looked directly at him, but seemed unable to look him right in the eyes. Sara's shining cerulean eyes refused to travel any higher than her sons nose. For some reason known only to her, she could not look him in the eye.
“So this is it, we're back to the ice queen” Kyre though bitterly to himself. As soon as he had shook the confusion of what had happened to him the night before, the pain effectively sweeping away the haze, he had known this was to be the result. Kyre had been given ample time to think about it on his journey downstairs. It had been a one time thing, his mother taking the risk of going into the night for him, the worry, the frantic waver in her crying voice. He though for a moment he should hold onto that memory for a moment. “But why?” another part of his mind said. “Why bother? Fantasy like that is for children. I may of well imagined it all” The young man was momentarily overcome by bitterness and resentment towards his parents that overshadowed anything he had ever felt for them, good or bad, and it showed on his face.
Now it was his father’s turn to talk. His gruff voice sounding strained and tired. As if Conner had been swallowing sand.
“Don't pull that face at your mother boy. Accident or not we are still your parents, and will treat us as such. Your mother risked her own health to find you last night. The least you could do is show gratitude!” Conner’s voice rose slightly as he took a step towards the table, and not so gently thumped his empty mug onto the table, and stepped back and turned to look out the kitchen window, reaching into his jacket pocket for his pipe, signaling the end of his input into the conversation.
Kyre almost completely tuned out what his father had said, having learned to do so after years of lectures much like that. All the while he remained focused on his mothers face. Maybe not all had returned to the way it had been. The more he started, the more he noticed. His mothers face looked tired, worn. The elegance she once practically radiated was suddenly gone. Kyre, maybe for the first time, saw his mother as she truly was. Under the various make up, under the air of superiority, the fancy dinners, all of that, Kyre saw things he never had. The wrinkles on the outer sides of her eyes, the red streaks on her cheeks, tears? Her hair looking like it had only been smoothed down after a night of troubled sleep. The boy, after something close to a decade, saw his mother for what she really was deep down.
Just another ordinary person, no different from any other rich or poor woman.
He almost fell out of his chair in the shock of this revelation.
But why would she not look at him?
“Mother....” he began, speaking at last, but was quickly cut off.
Sara had taken Kyre's speaking as her queue, and almost in one breath, began the small speech she had spent most of the time after she found her son practicing.
“Kyre, son, I feel...no...I know I must explain a few things, important things. So please, do not interrupt. I would even prefer you hold your tongue until I am done, or I may never get it all out.”
Sara took a deep breath and began.
“Before we adopted you, a few years before, your father and I discovered that we could not have children of our own. I am unable to bear children” Sara fought back her emotions at this painful memory. “After it became apparent that it was hopeless, adoption was our only option. In fact, after some thought we thought it wonderful to be able to give a parentless child a good home.”
Kyre was mildly shocked, he had never really thought about why is parents had adopted him in the first place; it simply never crossed his mind. The way he had been treated sometimes had indicated to him that they had somehow been forced to take him.
“We traveled out to the city of Dolmez, you may not remember it well but that was were the orphanage was. It is not cheap to adopt a child these days, once you could simply sign the papers and they would thank you for giving a poor child a home, but now they want donations, it cost us a lot to adopt you. We could of easily gone to another orphanage but....”
Sara halted suddenly and bit her lower lip nervously, and glanced and her husband by the window, seeing as he did not say anything, or even turn around, she slowly continued.
“We chose that particular orphanage, because...”
“It was the orphanage I was born and raised in.” Connor calmly cut off his wife.
This time really did have to grasp the table with his less pained arm to stop from falling from the seat he was precariously leaning back on. Sara absent-mindedly muttered something about breaking his neck doing that one-day.
“W-were you were...” he muttered disbelievingly
“You heard me, it was the orphanage I was raised in, and unlike you, and I was not adopted. I was given some coin and shown the door when I came of age.” Conner said quietly through a cloud of smoke from his pipe.
This was too much to take, in this one short moment, everything he had ever seen or thought about his parents and been shattered to a million pieces, his brain felt like it was spinning like a top. Then a thought broke through the madness.
“But why me? Out of all the children there, why me? Out of all the normal children, why pick the only freak?” Kyre spoke clearly with tones of confusion, and bitterness.
Sara glanced and Conner again before continuing.
“In all honesty son, we only ever saw you once. From a window looking out to the courtyard at the orphanage, the day we adopted you. You were by yourself, while the rest of the children played. Some even threw rocks and teased you; we agreed that was no way for a child to live. So we signed the papers right there and then.”
“But that doesn’t explain why you didn't.....” Kyre trailed off as it finally struck him. “My hood....I was wearing my hood. I wore it all day and night when I was there...the nun's wouldn’t let me remove it unless I was bathing...” The pure astonishment in his voice surprised even him.
Sara bit her lip again and kept going, needing more than anything to finish before her nerve faded.
“It wasn't till we were back here in Serates that we realized you were...different. After we settled you into the attic, your father and I discussed it almost all night. First we were angry at the nuns for not telling us, after it faded I realized that...” her voiced croaked slightly. “That you were probably the one child in that place that truly needed a good home, a normal life. We have tried out hardest to give you a life of normalcy, but I see now I was wrong. Whatever we did there was nothing we could of done to prevent the hatred of the villagers, and I am ashamed and sitting idly by as my son was tormented for years.”
Suddenly she shot a piercing glare at her husband, it had been his years of claiming what did kill the boy made him stronger. In an instant the look was gone, but Kyre saw it.
“But no longer. I care not for what anybody says, I will raise you in whatever way I choose, without fearing the words of others. I have thought long and hard on this. Years even.” A weight had been lifted from Sara, and in a moment of pure inspiration, going with the moment, she rose quickly and walked over to a drawer and rummaged around. Conner and Kyre both looking at her curiously.
“Kyre, come here” she said without looking up.
After a few winces Kyre and shuffled over to his mother and waited, confused.
“Turn around” she instructed, and Kyre obeyed. With a swift movement his head was suddenly cold, and there was small snapping noises coming from the back of his neck.
“Mother. What are you..” he tried to turn, but Sara stopped him, and after another minuet, straightened up with a tearful smile on her face, and Kyre's always present hood in her hand.
“I always hated sewing these on”, she looked down at the fabric thoughtfully, “and they always hid what a handsome face you have.” Kyre was unable to form words, a million of them flew about his head, but not one came out. He turned around to face his mother, when the surprises kept coming. For the first time in both their lives, Sara lent down and wrapped her son in a hug.
“I've wanted to do this since you were four years old” she confessed, then straightened again, crying fully now. “No matter what those ignorant townsfolk say, no matter of adoption, you are our son Kyre, and we love you.” she almost whispered, finally looking directly into her son's amber eyes. “Now please, go get some more rest, or if the stairs pose a challenge, you may sleep in the front room. Son or not, I still don't like that kind of language.” She smiled weakly.
Kyre more in a stunned daze than obedience, turned slowly and exited the kitchen. Almost as soon as he left he heard the angry whispers of his father, obviously disapproving of these radical steps his mother had taken, but he could also hear with his keen hearing the whispers of his mother, her will unmoved.
After deciding it would be best to tackle the stairs than be nearby lest his father seek solace in the front room and his favorite chair, Kyre made the slow journey up the two flights to his room. Still dazed at what had just happened, he none to carefully fell onto his bed, the ensuing pain felt far away, he was numb all over. It was simply too much to fast. He couldn’t process a tenth of it, a millionth of it!
Slowly exhaustion started to grab hold of him, and he began to slip into a no doubt restless sleep, then, and only then, did he let the tears of happiness fall from his golden eyes, and he would not remember them once he awoke.
End Chapter Two